Ideas of Georges Rey, by Theme

[American, fl. 1992, Professor at the University of Maryland.]

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5. Theory of Logic / F. Referring in Logic / 1. Naming / d. Singular terms
Varieties of singular terms are used to designate token particulars
     Full Idea: We designate token particulars with singular terms, such as: proper names, numerals, definite descriptions, demonstratives, pronouns or variables.
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], 1.1.1)
6. Mathematics / C. Sources of Mathematics / 4. Mathematical Empiricism / b. Indispensability of mathematics
Physics requires the existence of properties, and also the abstract objects of arithmetic
     Full Idea: Physics is committed to arithmetic, which seems committed to abstract objects such as numbers, and its causal explanations seem to appeal to properties, such as mass and charge.
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], 2.3)
9. Objects / F. Identity among Objects / 7. Indiscernible Objects
The Indiscernibility of Identicals is a truism; but the Identity of Indiscernibles depends on possible identical worlds
     Full Idea: Leibniz's Law, the indiscernibility of identicals, is a truism which should not be confused with the more controversial identity of indiscernibles, which depends on the possibility of perfectly replicated universes.
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], 2.4)
12. Knowledge Sources / A. A Priori Knowledge / 1. Nature of the A Priori
The traditional a priori is justified without experience; post-Quine it became unrevisable by experience
     Full Idea: Where Kant and others had traditionally assumed that the a priori concerned beliefs 'justifiable independently of experience', Quine and others of the time came to regard it as beliefs 'unrevisable in the light of experience'.
     From: Georges Rey (The Analytic/Synthetic Distinction [2013], 3.7)
     A reaction: That throws a rather striking light on Quine's project. Of course, if the a priori is also necessary, then it has to be unrevisable. But is a bachelor necessarily an unmarried man? It is not necessary that 'bachelor' has a fixed meaning.
12. Knowledge Sources / D. Empiricism / 1. Empiricism
Empiricism says experience is both origin and justification of all knowledge
     Full Idea: Two of the key claims of empiricism are that all knowledge must be justified on the basis of experience, and that all knowledge in fact originates in experience.
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], 4.3)
13. Knowledge Criteria / C. External Justification / 9. Naturalised Epistemology
Animal learning is separate from their behaviour
     Full Idea: Rats and monkeys exhibit 'latent learning' (learning just for fun) which is later beneficial. They learn with no consequences, and then can't learn when the good consequences are available.
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], 4.1.1)
     A reaction: This looks like a bit of a setback for naturalised epistemology and cognitive science, if learning can't be brought within a stimulus-response framework.
14. Science / D. Explanation / 3. Best Explanation / a. Best explanation
Abduction could have true data and a false conclusion, and may include data not originally mentioned
     Full Idea: Abduction moves from some data to a 'best explanation'. It is not deduction because the data could be true but the conclusion false, and it is not induction because the conclusion may involve data not mentioned in the premises.
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], p.322)
14. Science / D. Explanation / 3. Best Explanation / b. Ultimate explanation
It's not at all clear that explanation needs to stop anywhere
     Full Idea: It's not at all clear that explanation needs to stop anywhere.
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], Int.2)
15. Nature of Minds / A. Nature of Mind / 1. Mind / e. Questions about mind
The three theories are reduction, dualism, eliminativism
     Full Idea: There are three main views regarding the ontology of mental phenomena: reductionism, dualism and eliminativism.
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], 1.1)
     A reaction: It is precisely this picture which is rejected by Davidson and co, who want something called 'property dualism', with a unique relationship which is labelled 'supervenient'. Unfortunately there is no analogy for it. Not even beauty and a statue.
15. Nature of Minds / B. Features of Minds / 1. Consciousness / e. Cause of consciousness
Is consciousness 40Hz oscillations in layers 5 and 6 of the visual cortex?
     Full Idea: Crick and Koch claim that visual consciousness is correlated with a 40Hz oscillation in layers five and six of the primary visual cortex.
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], 2.1)
     A reaction: Not many people seem to have been enthused by their proposal. The target is the NCC (Neural Correlate of Consciousness), but we would only accept that location if the 'oscillations' seemed in some way special.
15. Nature of Minds / B. Features of Minds / 3. Privacy
Dualist privacy is seen as too deep for even telepathy to reach
     Full Idea: The privacy that is a serious issue for the dualist is a peculiarly epistemic privacy that not even telepathy or brain fusions would seem to overcome.
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], 2.5.4)
     A reaction: This is a key idea in the traditional defence of dualism. I'm inclined to think that we are faced with deep privacy not because the mind is so hidden, but because the observer is trapped in NOT being the thing observed. In that sense, rocks are private.
15. Nature of Minds / B. Features of Minds / 4. Intentionality / b. Intentionality theories
Intentional explanations are always circular
     Full Idea: There can seem to be no escape from the "intentional circle" - the use of one intentional idiom always seems to presuppose the use of another.
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], 3.3)
     A reaction: The best explanation of this is Conceptual Dualism (Papineau: Thinking about Consciousness). We are locked into dualist concepts because of our long-term ignorance about the brain.
15. Nature of Minds / B. Features of Minds / 5. Qualia / a. Nature of qualia
Arithmetic and unconscious attitudes have no qualia
     Full Idea: The contents of thoughts, beliefs and desires seem quite distinct from qualia. Arithmetic has no particular feeling attached to it, and Freud showed that many propositional attitudes have no feeling at all, as they are unconscious.
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], 1.1.2)
     A reaction: I don't think we should rule out 'pre-conscious' qualia. The fact that advanced human mental capacities like arithmetic have thinned out their qualia doesn't count against qualia being essential to normal mental life.
Why qualia, and why this particular quale?
     Full Idea: If we allow as a brute fact that certain mental states possess conscious qualitative content, there is still the problem of explaining why they possess one content rather than another (why does this stimulus look RED?).
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], 2.1)
     A reaction: This strikes me as the Really Hard Question. The Hard Question is merely 'why are creatures aware of their thoughts?' Personally I don't rule out finding a physical answer to the RHQ, and it is certainly not grounds for drifting into neo-dualism.
15. Nature of Minds / B. Features of Minds / 5. Qualia / b. Qualia and intentionality
If qualia have no function, their attachment to thoughts is accidental
     Full Idea: If qualia are non-functionally defined objects, then their attachment to their role in my thought would seem to be metaphysically accidental.
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], 11.4.2)
     A reaction: A rock at sea can cause a shipwreck without being defined as 'a shipwrecker'. It is, of course, tautological that if qualia have a 'role' in my thoughts, they must have causal powers, but 'function' is a much trickier concept.
Are qualia a type of propositional attitude?
     Full Idea: Qualitative experience is just a particular species of propositional attitude.
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], 11.6.1)
     A reaction: This sounds very implausible. If I hear a loud and baffling noise, is a proposition instantly involved? When a subtle change of colour occurs in the sky at sunset, is that 'propositional'? Do slugs formulate propositions when they taste garlic?
15. Nature of Minds / B. Features of Minds / 5. Qualia / c. Explaining qualia
Are qualia irrelevant to explaining the mind?
     Full Idea: Phenomenal objects and properties are no more needed to explain the workings of our mind than are angels needed to explain the motion of the planets.
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], 11.6.1)
     A reaction: The question would be whether 'phenomenal properties' contained unique information, which could therefore influence behaviour. It is also a matter of exactly what you are trying to explain.
15. Nature of Minds / B. Features of Minds / 6. Inverted Qualia
If colour fits a cone mapping hue, brightness and saturation, rotating the cone could give spectrum inversion
     Full Idea: If colour can be modelled as a cone, with points mapped by hue, brightness and saturation, then a rotation could be isomorphic with the hues switched, so we may all experience different hues.
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], 11.7.1)
     A reaction: from Levine
16. Persons / B. Nature of the Self / 6. Self as Higher Awareness
Self-consciousness may just be nested intentionality
     Full Idea: It is tempting to think that if a system has concepts for nested intentionality and first-person reflection, it has all that's needed for self-consciousness.
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], 11.2.2)
     A reaction: If there nothing more than nested intentionality in complex minds like ours, the top level of the nesting would still have a special status. And if the top level always seemed to stay the same while the lower levels changed, I'd probably call it the Self
16. Persons / C. Self-Awareness / 4. Errors in Introspection
Experiments prove that people are often unaware of their motives
     Full Idea: Experiments have shown (Nisbett and Wilson 1977) that people's introspective knowledge is a lot less reliable than they suppose. People are sensitive to but entirely unaware of many factors that influence their social behaviour.
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], 3.2.2)
     A reaction: This type of observation rests on an overemphasis on the conscious mind. We are not conscious of liver events, or of deep buried brain events, both of which motivate us. We should only expect introspection to reveal what is fully conscious.
Brain damage makes the unreliability of introspection obvious
     Full Idea: The most dramatic phenomena undermining the absolute reliability of introspection are those of blindsight and "anosognosia" (unawareness of one's own brain damage).
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], 3.2.2)
     A reaction: It might depend on what you expected introspection to reveal. If you only expected it to tell you about your consciousness, it would be unreasonable to expect knowledge of blindsight information by introspection.
16. Persons / F. Free Will / 5. Against Free Will
Free will isn't evidence against a theory of thought if there is no evidence for free will
     Full Idea: We don't need arguments to show that if there were free will then computational accounts of the mind would be inadequate; what is needed is good evidence that there actually exists such free will in the first place.
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], 8.6)
If reason could be explained in computational terms, there would be no need for the concept of 'free will'
     Full Idea: If a computational account of reasoning processes could be given, then there is no need to settle the issue of "free will", as reason could get along without it.
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], 8.6)
17. Mind and Body / B. Behaviourism / 1. Behaviourism
Maybe behaviourists should define mental states as a group
     Full Idea: Defining most mental states seems to requiring citing other mental states - but perhaps behaviourists can define them all simultaneously
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], 5.3)
     A reaction: This is an interesting strategy for trying to avoid the well known circularity of attempting to define mental states in behavioural terms. Behaviourism won't go away.
Behaviourism is eliminative, or reductionist, or methodological
     Full Idea: There are three different views concerning behaviourism - the 'radical' view, which aims at eliminativism, the 'analytical' view, which is a reductionist enterprise, and the 'methodological' view, somewhere between the two.
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], 4)
     A reaction: The first appears to be ontological, the second about relationships between areas of our language, and the third epistemological. You could attempt language reduction because we can only know behaviour, because that's all there is.
17. Mind and Body / B. Behaviourism / 4. Behaviourism Critique
Animals don't just respond to stimuli, they experiment
     Full Idea: Animals exhibit 'spontaneous alteration' in their behaviour (e.g. varying the route to the food), or improvisation (finding short cuts instead of following training). They use mental maps, or dead reckoning, not just conditioned responses.
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], 4.1.4)
     A reaction: If we can't even get a decent behaviourist account of animal behaviour, presumably the chances for humans look even less good. 'Black box' behaviourism, rather than the eliminativist version, might allow internal mechanisms to modify responses.
How are stimuli and responses 'similar'?
     Full Idea: Radical behaviourists say animals emit "similar" responses to "similar" reinforcements, but that is empty without specifying in what respect there is a similarity.
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], 4.3)
     A reaction: The point is that when you try to specify the similarity you are (supposedly) forced to use mental language to make the distinctions, thus contradicting behaviourism. It is not, though, self-evidently impossible to give a behaviourist specification.
Behaviour is too contingent and irrelevant to be the mind
     Full Idea: The two main anti-behaviourist intuitions are that mind and behaviour only relate contingently, and that for much mental life (thinking, emotion) the resulting behaviour seems unimportant.
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], 5.3)
     A reaction: Attractive intuitions, but not unquestionable. Since no two states of mind are ever fully identical, we can never test whether the resulting behaviour arises contingently or necessarily. The second point underestimates the physicality of mental life.
17. Mind and Body / C. Functionalism / 1. Functionalism
If a normal person lacked a brain, would you say they had no mind?
     Full Idea: If many otherwise ordinary people turned out to have skulls which were empty or filled with oatmeal, would that mean that they didn't have minds?
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], 7.1.4)
     A reaction: That's a John Locke sort of question, implying that 'persons' are logically independent of their implementation. Personally I would search for a radio receiver, because oatmeal is implausible as a thinker.
Dualism and physicalism explain nothing, and don't suggest any research
     Full Idea: Neither dualism nor physicalism provides much serious explanation of any mental phenomena, or even much in the way of a program of research.
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], Int.2)
     A reaction: I'm not sure if people who demand an "explanation of mental phenomena" are quite clear about what it is they want. God might just say "Mental phenomena are just brain events from the brain's point of view".
17. Mind and Body / C. Functionalism / 6. Homuncular Functionalism
Homuncular functionalism (e.g. Freud) could be based on simpler mechanical processes
     Full Idea: So-called 'homuncular functionalism' (such as Freud's or Plato's internal struggles of the soul) needn't lead to an infinite regress if eventually the homunculi become so stupid they could be replaced by a machine.
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], 7.2.2)
     A reaction: from Fodor
17. Mind and Body / C. Functionalism / 7. Chinese Room
Is the room functionally the same as a Chinese speaker?
     Full Idea: The question for a computational-representation theory about the Chinese Room is: is what is happening inside the room functionally equivalent to what is happening inside a normal Chinese speaker?
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], 10.2.1)
     A reaction: Certainly the Room lacks morality ('how can I torture my sister?'). It won't spot connections between recent questions. It won't ask itself questions. It will take years to spot absurd questions.
Searle is guilty of the fallacy of division - attributing a property of the whole to a part
     Full Idea: You should no more attribute understanding of Chinese to this one part of the system than you should ascribe the properties of the entire British Empire to Queen Victoria. This is the fallacy of division.
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], 10.2.3)
     A reaction: This very nicely pinpoints what is wrong with the Chinese Room argument (nice analogy, too). If you carefully introspect what is involved when you 'understand' something, it is immensely complex, though it feels instant and simple.
17. Mind and Body / C. Functionalism / 8. Functionalism critique
One computer program could either play chess or fight a war
     Full Idea: It is always possible to provide incompatible interpretations of formal theories, so that a computer could use the same program one day to play chess, the next to fight a war.
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], 9.1.3)
     A reaction: This seems to present a huge gulf between human chess players (who 'understand' what they are doing) and machines, but I don't accept it. Giving the machine cameras and multi-level software would fix it.
17. Mind and Body / E. Mind as Physical / 3. Eliminativism
Human behaviour can show law-like regularity, which eliminativism can't explain
     Full Idea: There is clear evidence against eliminative materialism in the law-like correlations found among millions of answers in standardised school tests, for which it can give no explanation.
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], Int.3)
     A reaction: Not very persuasive. If neural networks got involved in complex competitions with one another, you would expect them to evolve similar tactics.
If you explain water as H2O, you have reduced water, but not eliminated it
     Full Idea: Reduction is not the same as elimination; if chemists reduce water to H2O, or biologists reduce life to a complex chemical process, they have not shown that they don't exist.
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], 1.2.1)
     A reaction: Depends what you mean by 'elimination'. It is important to be clear whether you are eliminating something from life, or from strict philosophical ontology. Ontologists never mention mountains.
17. Mind and Body / E. Mind as Physical / 4. Connectionism
Connectionism assigns numbers to nodes and branches, and plots the outcomes
     Full Idea: In connectionism, each node is given an activation level, and each branch a weight, according to possible degree of effect. This results in 'excitatory' and 'inhibitory' connections.
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], 8.8)
     A reaction: Whether such a system could ever be 'conscious' is not the only interesting question. What could such a system do? Could it ever be good at philosophy?
Connectionism explains well speed of perception and 'graceful degradation'
     Full Idea: Connectionism is better than other AI strategies at capturing the extraordinary swiftness of perception, and of degrading in a 'graceful' way.
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], 8.8)
     A reaction: A good theory had better capture the extraordinary swiftness of perception. Also the swiftness of recognition. Compare seeing a surprising old friend in a crowd, and recognising the person you are looking for.
Connectionism explains irrationality (such as the Gamblers' Fallacy) quite well
     Full Idea: Connectionism offers promising accounts of irrational behaviour, such as people's bias towards positive instances, and their tendency to fall for the gamblers' fallacy.
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], 8.8)
     A reaction: That is strong support, because the chances of a computational robot having such tendencies is virtually nil, but all humans have the biases referred to (even philosophers).
Pattern recognition is puzzling for computation, but makes sense for connectionism
     Full Idea: Connectionism is a way of capturing the holism of pattern recognition, as stressed by many critics of computational theories of mind.
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], 8.8)
     A reaction: I am drawn to the idea that arithmetic derives from pattern recognition, and the latter is basic to all minds (a kind of instant unthinking induction), so this seems to me a win for connectionism.
17. Mind and Body / E. Mind as Physical / 7. Anti-Physicalism / a. Physicalism critique
Can identity explain reason, free will, non-extension, intentionality, subjectivity, experience?
     Full Idea: Eight properties of mind are problems for the identity theory: rationality, free will, spatiality, privacy, intentionality, essential mentality, subjective content, and the explanatory gap.
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], 2.7)
     A reaction: The list could go on: poetry, creativity, love, normativity... Actually, these are problems for every theory.
Physicalism offers something called "complexity" instead of mental substance
     Full Idea: In physicalism the "ghost in the machine" is merely replaced by the "complexity" in it.
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], Int.2)
     A reaction: This is nonsense. No one thinks that mere complexity generates consciousness. The assumption is that we would begin to understand the mind only if we could somehow map the connections of the brain.
18. Thought / A. Modes of Thought / 2. Propositional Attitudes
Some attitudes are information (belief), others motivate (hatred)
     Full Idea: Propositional attitudes divide into two broad types: neutral informational ones (belief, suspicion, imagining), and directional ones which motivate an agent (preference, desire, hate).
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], 1.1.2)
     A reaction: Since suspicions are motivating, and preferences are informational, this is not a very sharp distinction. An alternative would be to say that there is one type, and sometimes the will gets involved.
18. Thought / B. Mechanics of Thought / 3. Modularity of Mind
Good grammar can't come simply from stimuli
     Full Idea: Grammatical sensitivity is in no way a physical property of the stimulus, and we can't imagine how to build a device which would produce grammatical structures in response to the environment.
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], 4.3)
     A reaction: You could try to program it with a set of (say) Aristotelian categories, and mechanisms to sort the environment accordingly. It then has to query its database, in response to practical needs. A doddle.
Children speak 90% good grammar
     Full Idea: Ninety percent of most young children's utterances are grammatical.
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], 4.2.4)
     A reaction: This is good evidence for some sort of innate element in the grammar of language. But the accurate grammar is not in a particular language. Good communication must be the driving force in all this.
18. Thought / B. Mechanics of Thought / 4. Language of Thought
Animals may also use a language of thought
     Full Idea: The language of thought need not only be confined to creatures which speak a natural language.
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], 10.1.1)
     A reaction: I take it as axiomatic that our brains are no different in principles and fundamental mechanics from the lowliest of creatures. See Idea 7509.
We train children in truth, not in grammar
     Full Idea: Very young children have been shown (Brown and Halon 1970) to be 'reinforced' not for their grammar but for the informational content of what they say.
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], 4.2.1)
     A reaction: This is what you would expect. It doesn't follow that the grammar comes from innate mechanisms, because the pressure to get the information right could impose increasing accuracy in grammar.
18. Thought / B. Mechanics of Thought / 6. Artificial Thought / a. Artificial Intelligence
Images can't replace computation, as they need it
     Full Idea: Processing of images and mental models seems to require, and therefore is unlikely to replace, computation and representation.
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], 10.1.2)
     A reaction: A good point. If you are a fan of mental imagery, you still have to explain how we can hold an image, or recall it, or manipulate it. I always, I don't know why, wince at the thought of 'computations' among neurons.
CRTT is good on deduction, but not so hot on induction, abduction and practical reason
     Full Idea: The computational/representational theory of thought has given a good account of deduction, but mechanical theories of induction, abduction and practical reason are needed in order to make a machine which could reason.
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], 8.5)
     A reaction: This is the best analysis of rationality that I have found (four components: deduction, induction, abduction, practical reason). I can think of nothing to add, and certainly none of these should be omitted.
18. Thought / C. Content / 1. Content
Problem-solving clearly involves manipulating images
     Full Idea: Recent experiments (Shepard 1982) suggest people have imagistic representations they inspect when solving problems. In comparing two rotated images, the time for comparison varies with the angle of rotation.
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], 2.5.3)
     A reaction: This doesn't prove that they are slowly rotating something. It may just be harder to make the leap to the new shape, when it is 'further away'. Picturing a 20-sided figure, we don't add sides one-by-one.
Animals map things over time as well as over space
     Full Idea: To map things like food over time, animals must somehow represent events as having temporal properties, and somehow store those representations ready for later use.
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], 4.3)
     A reaction: If the mechanisms for doing this are basic, then so is the ontology. Objects must be categorised, properties spotted, time-spans correlated etc. 'Represent' needs to be sharp to be useful.
18. Thought / C. Content / 6. Broad Content
Simple externalism is that the meaning just is the object
     Full Idea: The oldest version of the externalist theory of meaning is the Fido/Fido theory, according to which the meaning of a representation is the object for which it stands.
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], 9.2)
     A reaction: Modern baptismal theories of reference seem to have taken us back to this, for distinct individuals such as Aristotle, or natural kinds like gold. What, though, does 'Fido' mean to me? Asthma!
18. Thought / D. Concepts / 4. Structure of Concepts / h. Family resemblance
Anything bears a family resemblance to a game, but obviously not anything counts as one
     Full Idea: Anything bears a family resemblance to a game, but obviously not anything counts as one.
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], 4.3)
19. Language / A. Nature of Meaning / 5. Meaning as Verification
A one hour gap in time might be indirectly verified, but then almost anything could be
     Full Idea: You couldn't directly verify that the whole universe had stopped for one hour, but you might indirectly verify it (by prediction) - but then almost anything could be very indirectly verified.
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], 5.4)
     A reaction: Does indirect verification include time travel? Or perfect knowledge of quantum theory, and total knowledge of quantum states. Laplace's Hypothesis.
19. Language / A. Nature of Meaning / 6. Meaning as Use
The meaning of "and" may be its use, but not of "animal"
     Full Idea: The view that the meaning of language of thought expressions is based on their conceptual role (derived from Wittgenstein's idea of meaning as use), is most plausible for the logical connectives like "and", but implausible for, say, "animal".
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], 9.1.2)
     A reaction: It was the logical connectives that got LW started on this track. If it doesn't work for 'animal' then does that mean we need two different theories?
19. Language / A. Nature of Meaning / 7. Meaning Holism / b. Language holism
Semantic holism means new evidence for a belief changes the belief, and we can't agree on concepts
     Full Idea: Semantic holism is a desperate measure. Belief content would be continually changed by new beliefs, evidence for a belief would change the target belief, and no two people would ever agree on concepts.
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], 9.1.2)
     A reaction: It is far more plausible to say language is a bit on the holistic side. Total holism is mad.
19. Language / A. Nature of Meaning / 8. Synonymy
Externalist synonymy is there being a correct link to the same external phenomena
     Full Idea: Externalists are typically committed to counting expressions as 'synonymous' if they happen to be linked in the right way to the same external phenomena, even if a thinker couldn't realise that they are by reflection alone.
     From: Georges Rey (The Analytic/Synthetic Distinction [2013], 4.2)
     A reaction: [He cites Fodor] Externalists always try to link to concrete things in the world, but most of our talk is full of generalities, abstractions and fiction which don't link directly to anything.
19. Language / B. Reference / 3. Direct Reference / b. Causal reference
Causal theories of reference (by 'dubbing') don't eliminate meanings in the heads of dubbers
     Full Idea: Causal histories may have some role to play in a theory of reference, but the chain of causation requires internal characterisations at each stage, and the original dubber had one thing rather than another in mind when dubbing.
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], 9.2.1)
     A reaction: The modern view of direct reference seems to prefer social context rather than a complete causal chain.
If meaning and reference are based on causation, then virtually everything has meaning
     Full Idea: What is special about meaning? If meaning and reference are just the result of causal chains, almost everything will mean something, since almost everything is reliably caused by something.
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], 9.2.2)
     A reaction: It would be insane to think that all causal events produced meanings. It is probably better not to mention causation at all when discussing meaning.
19. Language / B. Reference / 4. Descriptive Reference / a. Sense and reference
Referential Opacity says truth is lost when you substitute one referring term ('mother') for another ('Jocasta')
     Full Idea: Referential Opacity says you cannot preserve truth if you substitute one referring term for another ('Oedipus desires Jocasta', 'Oedipus desires his mother').
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], 2.5.6)
     A reaction: .That is, in the context of expressing a propositional attitude. 'Oedipus desired his mother' was true. This idea requires some ignorance on the part of the person expressing the thought.
19. Language / E. Analyticity / 1. Analytic Propositions
Analytic judgements can't be explained by contradiction, since that is what is assumed
     Full Idea: Rejecting 'a married bachelor' as contradictory would seem to have no justification other than the claim that 'All bachelors are unmarried is analytic, and so cannot serve to justify or explain that claim.
     From: Georges Rey (The Analytic/Synthetic Distinction [2013], 1.2)
     A reaction: Rey is discussing Frege's objection to Kant (who tried to prove the necessity of analytic judgements, on the basis of the denial being a contradiction).
'Married' does not 'contain' its symmetry, nor 'bigger than' its transitivity
     Full Idea: If Bob is married to Sue, then Sue is married to Bob. If x bigger than y, and y bigger than z, x is bigger than z. The symmetry of 'marriage' or transitivity of 'bigger than' are not obviously 'contained in' the corresponding thoughts.
     From: Georges Rey (The Analytic/Synthetic Distinction [2013], 1.2)
     A reaction: [Also 'if something is red, then it is coloured'] This is a Fregean criticism of Kant. It is not so much that Kant was wrong, as that the concept of analyticity is seen to have a much wider application than Kant realised. Especially in mathematics.
Analytic statements are undeniable (because of meaning), rather than unrevisable
     Full Idea: What's peculiar about the analytic is that denying it seem unintelligible. Far from unrevisability explaining analyticity, it seems to be analyticitiy that explains unrevisability; we only balk at denying unmarried bachelors because that's what it means!
     From: Georges Rey (The Analytic/Synthetic Distinction [2013], 3.7)
     A reaction: This is a criticism of Quine, who attacked analyticity when it is understood as unrevisability. Obviously we could revise the concept of 'bachelor', if our marriage customs changed a lot. Rey seems right here.
The meaning properties of a term are those which explain how the term is typically used
     Full Idea: It may be that the meaning properties of a term are the ones that play a basic explanatory role with regard to the use of the term generally, the ones in virtue ultimately of which a term is used with that meaning.
     From: Georges Rey (The Analytic/Synthetic Distinction [2013], 4.3)
     A reaction: [He cites Devitt 1996, 2002, and Horwich 1998, 2005) I spring to philosophical life whenever I see the word 'explanatory', because that is the point of the whole game. They are pointing to the essence of the concept (which is explanatory, say I).
An intrinsic language faculty may fix what is meaningful (as well as grammatical)
     Full Idea: The existence of a separate language faculty may be an odd but psychologically real fact about us, and it may thereby supply a real basis for commitments about not only what is or is not grammatical, but about what is a matter of natural language meaning.
     From: Georges Rey (The Analytic/Synthetic Distinction [2013], 4.4)
     A reaction: This is the Chomskyan view of analytic sentences. An example from Chomsky (1977:142) is the semantic relationships of persuade, intend and believe. It's hard to see how the secret faculty on its own could do the job. Consensus is needed.
Research throws doubts on the claimed intuitions which support analyticity
     Full Idea: The movement of 'experimental philosophy' has pointed to evidence of considerable malleability of subject's 'intuitions' with regard to the standard kinds of thought experiments on which defenses of analytic claims typically rely.
     From: Georges Rey (The Analytic/Synthetic Distinction [2013], 4.4)
     A reaction: See Cappelen's interesting attack on the idea that philosophy relies on intuitions, and hence his attack on experimental philosophy. Our consensus on ordinary English usage hardly qualifies as somewhat vague 'intuitions'.
19. Language / E. Analyticity / 4. Analytic/Synthetic Critique
If we claim direct insight to what is analytic, how do we know it is not sub-consciously empirical?
     Full Idea: How in the end are we going to distinguish claims or the analytic as 'rational insight', 'primitive compulsion', inferential practice or folk belief from merely some deeply held empirical conviction, indeed, from mere dogma.
     From: Georges Rey (The Analytic/Synthetic Distinction [2013], 4.1)
     A reaction: This is Rey's summary of the persisting Quinean challenge to analytic truths, in the face of a set of replies, summarised by the various phrases here. So do we reject a dogma of empiricism, by asserting dogmatic empiricism?
19. Language / F. Communication / 5. Pragmatics / b. Implicature
A simple chaining device can't build sentences containing 'either..or', or 'if..then'
     Full Idea: Bifurcated logical particles (either/or, if/then) are in principle beyond the power of any local chaining device to build sentences.
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], 4.2.1)
     A reaction: True in natural languages, but not in formal ones? If P then either if-Q-then-R or if-S-then-T. Is that chaining? If rain, then if light then puddles, or if heavy then floods. Hm.
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 2. Elements of Virtue Theory / h. Right feelings
Our desires become important when we have desires about desires
     Full Idea: What gives people's desires certain moral importance is the fact that they have desires about those desires.
     From: Georges Rey (Contemporary Philosophy of Mind [1997], 11.1)
     A reaction: from Frankfurt